Discussion continued from EthicsDiscussionA.
Please see EthicsDiscussionRoadmap for an overview of the discussion.

I’ve just spent 8 hours putting together my response to Andrew, and it’s still not done.

Don’t worry, when it comes out, I promise it will be shorter than Andrew’s original post. It’s just taking me time to sort out how exactly I want to respond.

Short “teaser” answer: this is the ChallengeOfEmotiveExpression writ large, combined with a need to include the word rejection, rather than just want – (specifically, choosing something that is ethical rather than something that you want is an act of rejection.)

Also, Andrew, see point 4, on NaturalisticSourceOfEthics, about how societies communicate their moral wants and rejections. That’s why societies agree with themselves. But people don’t look for moral advice from people outside their moral community! (Lord no!) They work very hard to keep their kids separated!

My response needs to communicate:

  • Points of agreement – I think Andrew will be surprised to find how deeply we agree about things, especially on the shared desire for dialog (which is based in appealing,) rather than violence (which is based in force.) In many parts of your post, I feel that you are simply arguing my point for me, and then adding a, “so there!” at the end.
  • The bridge – An explanation of how the ChasmOfDeath is bridged with an understanding of the ConsequencesOfNaturalisticEthics?, as part of EvolutionarySpirituality. I am really beginning to take seriously that this explanation is essential, not just for this conversation, but for EvolutionarySpirituality at large. Are we witnessing the “wild fear and extreme panic” that I talked about in EthicsDiscussionA? Understanding deep wants. What do people want? Does everybody really desire to be King? Trading external authority for deep personal sympathy: “This is what I want,” vs. “This is what I obey.” Which has greater effect: Convincing people that what they want is global peace, communication, & strength? Or making them bow to our authority? Do we fear that we cannot appeal to the wants of others in terms of their wants and rejections?
  • Corrections – Answering accusations of Moral Relativism – How the ConsequencesOfNaturalisticEthics? is very different than the Moral Relativism that lies in the pit of the ChasmOfDeath. (And other gross accusations Andrew has lobbed at a NaturalisticSourceOfEthics. I also need to explain that when I say “wants,” I also include “rejections,” the flip side of want.
  • The SourceOfEthics – showing how there is extremely little difference in Andrew’s vision of the SourceOfEthics, – which, on the face of it, seems more like an argument about the DestinationOfEthics?, rather than the source of ethics. When I look at what his source of his ethics, which is not supernatural, which is not based in philosophizing, but rather is based in evolutionary history, I see nothing but the NaturalisticSourceOfEthics. It’s in the destination that we have different ideas about what is likely, and I think I can show that those differences are basically meaningless to the discussion at hand, since we share desire for dialog, which is what we really care about.
  • Andrews Six Points – I would rather not, since I think to get stuck on answering bullet points in a list will unnecessarily lengthen my post; Especially given that my answers are unenlightening and redundant in several instances, adding near-nothing to the substance of what I have to say. But I will not be viewed as someone “running away” from arguments, and they are easily enough (though tediously) answered. I position this at the end, because the answers from my position should be obvious by the time we get here.

In fact, even though it is not asked for, and the point of Andrew’s spear is aimed in an altogether different direction, I feel that the bridge that crosses the ChasmOfDeath is so vitally necessary to the discussion at hand, that I may just bypass everything else, for the time being, and jump straight to it, and only to it. Realize that our argument so far has a very strong component of arguing from the conclusions. As in: “That couldn’t possibly be true, or even if it is, people shouldn’t think it is true, because if it were, people would act like this, and I don’t want that, and I reject that.”

The others myriad points can be answered later, if needed.


OK. I think the most succinct and direct way of answering, is to simply extend my word “want” with “reject.”

I now say that the source of ethics is you & your societies wants and rejections.

There is no “magic sauce” that is required – solely want or rejection.

And I will argue that your thirst for dialog plays exactly into this. Because this is how DefeasibleReasoning? plays out, in an ethical dialog:

  • “Well, we’ve established that you think X is ethical.”
    • “Yes.”
  • “And we’ve established that you think the world is like Y.”
    • “Yes.”
  • “And we’ve established that you think Z takes precedence over X, in this sort of situation.”
    • “Ah… I think I see what you’re saying…”
  • “So naturally, what you would want here is A, rather than B.”
    • “Oh..! Oh, yes, I see: You are right.”

What this is, is an appeal (and I stress that word, because it highlights desire) to our own wants and rejections. (Well, that, and our shared practical knowledge about how the world works, and such.)

This is exactly what I am saying, in NaturalisticSourceOfEthics: The foundation at the bottom of our ethical wants and rejections, is simply that: wants and rejections.

If you believe in dialog as a way of making sense of ethics, then you believe in appealing to wants and rejections!

“But, … but, … but, … …that would mean…”

…Moral Relativism?

Lets revisit: The ChasmOfDeath.

After all, by my theory, wants and rejections are the basis of ethics. It would only be natural for you to reject something, and declare it unethical, if the product of this way of thinking was something you would reject, is it not the case?

OKAY. We long ago left religion. Science! We made our way into philosophy, and perfect ideal eventualities, and perhaps modeling perfection and goodness as the natural must-happen mathematical punchline of the universe, and whatever other happy ideas we’d like to subscribe to. But we push still further… Science! Brains, teeming with a humming network of neurons and chemicals and carriers. Molecules, electrons, protons, and so on. What is the source of ethics? Clearly, the mechanics of all these systems is holding the world up. “But, … that… where are my metaphysical ideals?”

They’re not there. Or rather, they are abstractions that float on top of the machinery. They are inventions.

“But surely, not all ethics are good as any other?!” Of course not. The massively parallel computer of evolution produced and refined eyes– eyes that were not all as good as the other eyes.

“Then, so, ethics is the same, and there’s my metaphysical ethics!” Not quite. There is no metaphysical ethics. It’s your name for something that you want.

“No, no; If it’s what I want, and if it’s good for everybody, like I want, and if it rejects all the horrible things that I don’t want, then that’s the sign that there’s a metaphysical something on the other side.” I’m sorry; I just don’t follow your logic.

“But, … otherwise, … meaningless, purposeless, total moral relativity, … Hitler’s wants, just as good as Jesus’s, …”

Excuse me? Do you really think that? For even a moment?

HEY! Why are you running away, back over to philosophy? Come back here! This stuff is real!

First off, it’s a lame territory anyways. We’ve already established that we can’t know if we’ve hit a metaphysical ethics fairy on the mark, because we have no way of communicating with it. If we can’t get to the “True” in TrueJustifiedBelief?, because there’s no “Justified,” then it doesn’t really matter a hill of beans whether it’s true or not, because it will never be able to affect us. So even if after some billion year process, every living organism in the entire universe sang some same song of ethics, we would have no way of knowing if it was the True ethics, or if, instead, something had gone horribly wrong, and we were, in fact, (though not knowing it,) living in some horrific nightmare universe that would never end. We simply have no way of knowing. “Oh, … Sorry, … You all became computronium. Not what the ethics fairy wanted.”

But second, … This is the way! There is a path, over and across the ChasmOfDeath!

It’s true, this is a bit shocking, like the idea: “There is no God.” Remember that one? That shook the world up, quite a bit. We’re still feeling it. Here’s the next one: “There is no Ethics.”

Whoah; That hurt. The first one was okay, but the second- the second was personal. I believed in ethics. I strived for ethics. I mean, what else am I doing here, working all the time, super-hard, harder than most anybody else, on environmental stuff, if not for ethics? “This is not what I would prefer to be doing,” I hear you say.

Yes. It’s not what you would prefer to be doing. But, you reject the end of the planet, more than you prefer having the relatively small things that you want.

On the left hand, there’s all the wild passionate desires you could be achieving, if you weren’t so busy saving the world. On the right hand, there’s (basically) the end of the world, and all civilization.

Despite people’s ingratitude to you, even from the very people you are saving and sacrificing for, you have decided, (I believe,) that your rejection of the end of the world outweighs what you would like to do.

Rejection is just the flip side of want. “We want X, we don’t want Y.” Its part of that same continuum line thing. If there’s things that you want, things that you want more, and things that you want even more, then it makes sense to extend the line in the other direction, and go, oh, I don’t want that, and I don’t want that, and I especially don’t want that.

This choice, this rejection, is something that is made of a very complex life-long gradual layering of wants and rejections and calculations and discoveries and inquiries, and all the other things that we do to find out who we are, and what we want, and what we are doing, and why we are doing it, and so on.

Right? “It begins with the trickling accumulation of water molecules into tiny tiny droplets of water. The tiny droplets collect to form full dew. The dew accumulates, and other, trivial, insignificant bits of water from myriad sources, until you have a marsh. Like all things, it is made of the accumulations.”

In fact, if we recognize that all your inquiries, and all your thoughts, and all your dreams, and all the things you read– if we recognize that it’s all building on hundreds, thousands, even millions of peoples efforts and baton relaying through the ages– we find that you are not just you, but that you are also the product and present instantiation of a simply enormous project. John Stuart Mill held the baton, and he passed it to you. Who gave the baton to John Mill? Who gave the baton to them? I know we like to worship geniuses, but everyone’s getting something from everybody else.

In any ways, it’s not just you making those decisions. Operating alone and by yourself, I have to wonder: Is it possible for one person to make an entire civilizations wants and rejections? How could someone want a house, even, if they had never seen one? It’s not just your wants and rejections that you are carrying.

“Moral Relativism” is a shoddy way out. It’s known for it’s catchphrase, “Who’s to say?”

It is known for:

  • Nihilism.
  • Indifference, inability to oppose anything.
  • Not acting for something.
  • Nothing Just.
  • Nothing Spiritual.

The only thing it shares, with the ConsequencesOfNaturalisticEthics?, is skepticism of supernatural ethics.

The ConsequencesOfNaturalisticEthics? is very different. It doesn’t have a catchphrase, because few have imagined it, but I suppose it might be: “We’re to say. I’m to say. You’re to say.”

You are to reject and want as makes sense to you. To accumulate practical knowledge. To build the world that we believe in. To continue the human project.

It shall be known for:

  • Celebration of Life.
  • Caring, and Action.
  • Acting for Life.
  • Constructing the Just.
  • Constructing the Spiritual.

Kirphal Singh, an old guy I used to be really into, said, “Highest of all is the Truth, but higher still is True Living.”

Hoping for or pining for metaphysical spirits is hoping for a truth. The ConsequencesOfNaturalisticEthics? is True Living. Since it is intrinsicly constructive. Because if we don’t, there won’t be anything. It’s totally up to us.

I think that the ConsequencesOfNaturalisticEthics? is maturity.

We do not need Gods to reward us, or to tell us what to do and what not to do.

We do not need Metaphysical fairies to appease.

We do not need to search for base axiomatic sets, and argue over which one’s right, and which one is not.

Where people want different things, and reject different things, we will talk.

It is my sincere belief that science is the great unifier. There is controversy in science, but it collapses back into stability as we discover more, and go through the motions.

When all people know that homosexuality is not a sin because God says so, (and we must all obey God,) then people will know that it is their choice whether to accept or reject homosexuality. There will be many who will still reject it, and I believe we must then accept that not all people want the same thing. Gay men who want to fit the model of their community, because they love it so much, and turn back on their natural interests, will likely do so. Or is it wrong for people to picture something, and strive for something, that isn’t what they were born with? The Christians committed the first naturalistic fallacy, will we be responsible for the second?

But I think that the majority of people, coming to the realization that it is their responsibility, and not any deity or authorities’ responsibility, to build ethics, will choose to accept homosexuals, recognizing their own sexual nature, and desiring symmetry.

Yes, symmetry. We all want it.

There’s no need to argue the point; It’s already widely distributed. You don’t need to codify it into law, everybody already thinks its a good idea. It’s already what we want.

No secret sauce required.

The 6.

1. Forbidden trumps want.


Because the rejection is stronger than the want.

It is very common that our internal desires conflict. Axiomatic set theory may be internally consistent, but human wants rarely are.

2. Ethics must be shared.

No; Not really… People doubt each other’s ethics all the time.

When you’re making an argument by DefeasibleReasoning?, you choose the things that you think will be convincing: That is, you choose the things you think the other person will already agree with. That way, you can convince them that what they want is the same as what you want.

The purpose is not to get people to care for people they don’t care for..! That would completely utterly fail! No: The purpose is to show people how what they already care for extends to some particular situation.

It’s built on care, it does not establish care!

Note also: People don’t request ethical reasoning from people they don’t agree with! They request moral reasoning from people within their moral community. See PassagesOfPerspective for more on this.

3. Everyone things their own ethical beliefs are correct, and that other people’s are wrong.

Of course. It’s the same with Gods. People get religious. It doesn’t mean that whatever God they believe in is real.

This is like a variant of, “God must be real, because most people think God is real.”

(Actually, this is somewhat complicated: There are aspects of the God that are real, and there are aspects of the God that are not real. But, no need for these subtleties, here.)

4. People don’t think “want” = “should.”

My answer to 1 suffices.

5. Everyone wants to be King.

Our wants are conflicting. I grant that.

But fortunately, we put our rejection of these ideas higher than our uptake of them. Arguably, there is an evolutionary process at work here, too.

6. The form “X is ethical whether or not we like it” makes sense to us.

Again, the answer to 1 suffices.


Longer than…

I had intended…

But, I think I got my major points in there.

This is not how I had originally intended to write this, but, here it is.

I want to note that EvolutionarySpirituality is still very much a work in progress. I mean, you saw the EvolutionarySalon; You saw how it’s just little tatters of people, scraping together what bits and pieces of argument that they can find.

I don’t have the answer to the ChallengeOfEmotiveExpression problem.

But, I see the ChasmOfDeath, and I see how people respond to it, and I see that we need to get to the other side, and I see some people waving back from over there, and trying to figure out just how they got there, and what the path is, and so on.

It’s very much a work in progress.

But, I think here are some of the bits of intuitions that can do it.

Call me a “true believer,” but I really do believe that something in here contains seeds for the Consciousness of the 21st century. Great things are possible, I know they are. I know this state of Consciousness can grow and spread.

Lion, I really think that you are pushing innovation in various ways, although I have difficulties to keep track and to stay in sync.

First, I think you have a long record of “open thinking” which just maps the intellectual territory, its valid and invalid ideas, all the same. I always had difficulties to understand why “all the same” is so important. But now I start to see that this extreme openness about one own thinking and emotions is an important step forward in “being open”, which is needed to build the NooSphere. These are ropes, other people can cling to. At the same time it’s perfectly clear, that this is not authorative, so it is inviting participation, in emotional or intellectual resonance or contradiction.

Second, the result of this will be that we can explore the area of deep and complicated dialogues, which has not been tackled before. What else could be more challenging than to dig into the fundamentals of human existance, his fears, hopes and fundamental needs and how this relates to society. If we can organize and structure this discussion in a productive way in this wiki, and I’m pretty sure that we have the experience and creativity to do so, then it will be a big step forward for such undertakings in wiki, and perhaps even for prototyping other systems.

Third, I think that ethics is really central to wiki development and our current society problems. I do not think that we have agreement in what we aim at, I do not even know what I aim at, at the moment. I feel that ethics is highly contradictory, ambivalent and paradox and there will ne no success, as long is this character is not somehow represented in the form of the result. I think ethics can not come out as a logical, consistent piece of rational thinking. For example, ethics always defines a group it is constructed for. But to have a group inside and others that are left outside, second class species or humans, is an unethical idea. There are many such contradictions. We are seeking a perfect ethical system but it is not ethical to enforce it on people or be dogmatic. Years ago I wrote at school something like “even if we were able to prove that God doesn’t exist, it would be a bad thing to do so and deprive millions of people of their hopes, believes and spiritual backings” and I still think this holds. I really think ethics is more about the process then about the content, more about the “how” than about the “what”.

You’re creating lot of value. Thank you. Keep going.

Dear Lion – I am seriously tempted to stop posting for a while, because your description of the ethical project seems to me to do a better job of invoking the feelings that cause us to want to be ethical than my own does. The fact that your account inspires me more than mine does makes me doubt that my picture is complete, and wonder if it is even correct.

But I’m not going to quit quite yet, because I still think that there is a gap in your account between what we want and ethics, such that ethics, though they are what we want, are not just what we want. I am still hoping that we can somehow converge towards a position that bridges this gap while remaining inspiring.

I have been wrestling with the question of where exactly we disagree. My first impulse was just to reiterate “I want you to” and “you should” have different meaning, and that that difference does not seem to me to have anything to do with the intensity of the desires or the difference between wanting and rejecting. (My first reaction to the focus on rejecting was “huh?” This is because when I am trying to think about these things I usually translate “desire” or “want” into a preference ordering (actually, a preference index, since I want to capture intensity and not just rank), and under this translation, rejecting is just he flip side of wanting – between any two outcome, we want the one we don’t reject and reject the one we don’t want.) But I have already said this as best I can, and repeating it seems unproductive. So I will try another tack.

We make choices constantly based on what we want. We chose to behave in the way that brings about the sate of the world we desire, or prevents the state we fear. If I understand you correctly, we are in agreement about this (though I think there is an important digression to make concerning our frequent tendency to make local decisions (“I’ll have a slice of that cake”) that can go strongly against our global decisions (“I’m going to lose 40 pounds so that I don’t have another heart attack”)). This puts us together in a particular ethical camp: consequentialists, who think the ethical decisions should be made based on their effects and not on something else (Consequentialist: “Well, it saved his life.” Deonticicist: “Yes, but it was a lie.”)

I assert that when we make decisions via a two step process, where we first decide what rules we want to obey (bases on what outcome we want from the rules) and then what to do from the allowed choices based on what outcome we want from our action, we get a different, and better, outcome than if we simply base our decisions on how much we want the outcomes of each action. (This is true whether we are talking about the SourceOfEthics or the SourceOfLaw?).

At first, this seems paradoxical, because the former is optimization problem is constrained, while the latter optimization is unconstrained. So it seems like the best outcome in the latter case has to be at least as good as the best outcome in the former.

The reason this is not true is that when I make decisions over systems of rules, I am deciding how everyone will behave, and when I make decisions over outcome, I am only deciding how I will behave. The space of possible choices is different, because we can accomplish things through coordinated action that we can not accomplish through uncoordinated action. Ethics is a coordination device. This is another way of describing what I meant when I said that ethics is presumptively shared.

Consider these examples. They all start by assuming that we are not perfectly altruistic, in the sense of valuing the well-being of others as much as our own, and that the degree of altruism that we possess is not sufficient to overcome the advantage gained by the selfish option when we act alone.

I am deciding whether to cheat in a trading situation where I can do so undetectably. If everyone cheats we are all worse off then if everyone is honest. But if only I cheat I am better off than if I am honest but my trading partner is worse off than if everyone cheats. Moreover, if everyone else cheats I am better off if I join them than if I am the only honest trader.


I am deciding whether to pollute or spend more on pollution abatement, say by buying a cleaner car. If everyone pollutes we are all worse off then if everyone is abates. But if only I pollute, my economic savings are greater than the cost to me of my own pollution, but less than the sum of the costs that my pollution imposes on everyone. I am worst off if everyone pollutes but me.


I am deciding whether to contribute to a public good, like a park or fundamental scientific research or national defense, that has the property that people who do not contribute can not be excluded from the benefit.


I am in a large economy and am somewhat altruistic (and so is everyone else). I am contemplating giving a small percentage of my income above the poverty level to a charity that works anonymously to alleviate poverty. My contribution would leave me with noticeably less money but would have no effect on the poverty level in the economy as a whole that I could discern. But if everyone gave this same percentage, poverty could be eliminated.


I am deciding whether to use the threat of force in a process of public or collective decision-making about the allocation of social output. If no one uses force, the pie is bigger than if we all fight over it. But if I use force and others don’t, my share is bigger, but everyone else’s share is smaller by an amount the sum of which exceeds my gain.

Although some of these examples refer to creating benefits and others to imposing burdens, and the burdens and benefits are of quite different natures, when expressed in terms of choices and payoffs they are formally equivalent to one another and to the Prisoner’s Dilemma game. In each case, when I (and others) decide what to do based on how much we want the consequences of our own (respective) actions, we make individual choices that are bad for us collectively. We want the outcome of the choice we select more than we want the outcome of the alternative choice. Although we can see that there is another imaginable state of the world that we would prefer to the state that results from our individual actions, we also see that it is not a state that any of us, acting individually, can achieve. We choose our actions based on the outcomes of the choices that we can actually make.

But in each case, if we were (individually) able to choose a rule that would bind everyone (including ourselves), we want a rule that would compel us all to make a different choice than the one we would select individually.

I describe the rules so selected as ethical rules. They are what we want, but they are the rules that we want because we want the outcome of those rules, not the decisions that we want because we want the outcomes of those decisions. Decisions that we make, again based on the outcome of those decisions, by choosing from the actions allowable under the rules we want are ethical decisions. They are different from the decisions we would want to make if we considered only the outcomes of our actions. I think we need to incorporate something like them into any system of ethics that does not lead to a world of cheaters and polluters without scientific progress or public parks, where the poor stay poor and the rest fight over the scraps (see, e.g., Somalia).

Yet I see that there is something wrong with this description. Though I am not quite sure why, is seems to focus our attention on fears rather than aspirations, and on the ways that ethics constrain our actions rather than on how it frees our choice of outcome from those dictated by the Prisoner’s Dilemma trap, to include the world we were previously unable to reach by any choice, in which nature is preserved and poverty eliminated, where science thrives and we are able to pursue happiness and our dreams through fair dealing and democratic process.

I also observe two things that are missing that I think will ultimately be important, though I am not saying that we must address them now. The first is that although we are born with a capacity to love and to care, to be generous and kind, empathetic and compassionate, wise and good, this capacity can be trained and encouraged by society and cultivated by ourselves, and its encouragement and cultivation causes us both to desire ethical outcomes more strongly and to pursue them more effectively. This notion of the pursuit of virtue as an affirmative good, both instrumental and ultimate, is an important part of the picture and I’m not sure yet just where it fits in.

The second is the more difficult question of what rules ethics should prescribe in a world where people do not universally behave ethically. This is akin to (but I think harder than, because more general) the related question of when ethical rules should be prescribed by enforceable laws, and how those laws should be enforced.

I have again failed in my resolve to write a short posting. My apologies.

P.S. I want to recommend to you very strongly a fat two-volume set by Ken Binmore, Game Theory and the Social Contract, Vol. I. Playing Fair, & Vol. 2. Just Playing. Though neither you nor I will agree with all of it, it provides a host of tools and examples that are useful to anyone pursuing a naturalistic ethics. Though some people would doubtless find it dry and technical, it is written in a very accessible style and I found it fascinating and engrossing, and predict you will too.

Great response; I’m going to try to piece our thinking all together tomorrow morning.

I have some diagrams in my mind that I think may help build some clarity to our respective models of ethics, that I’ll make and upload.

I haven’t thought about it long enough, but there’s something that makes me think that what you are talking about is more like laws, than ethics. Law is a thing that applies to everybody, and it is expected that people will follow it. But it is not considered to be ethical. But it is ethical to have laws. I suspect that what is considered ethical is too much in flux, to even build a stable society out of; At a certain point, you need laws. But it’s late, and I’m not thinking very clearly. I’ll respond more later.

Helmut, thanks for your post; It’s very encouraging. I have a text buffer with some response to your post, but it’s half finished, and I’m about to collapse..!

Talk with you all tomorrow.

I just noticed that Ken Binmore has a new book, Natural Justice. Here is a short review (by a Nobel laureate in economics).

“Ken Binmore has written a truly exciting book that derives moral principles of fairness, equity, and other behavior from evolutionary theory. In his theory, societies that hit on more efficient and ‘fairer’ equilibrium are more likely to survive through a combination of genetic and cultural selection. He is in my judgment appropriately highly critical of the rather arbitrary solutions to morality offered by Kant and some other philosophers. The book is innovative but controversial, and is truly a fresh and original approach written mainly in non-technical language. It should be widely read and discussed. I predict it will have a significant influence on discussions of moral principles in the future. “ --Gary S. Becker, University Professor of Economics and Sociology, Professor in the Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago

I’m afraid I need to hold this discussion for now; CommunityWikiGovernment and other things have priority. :(

But I look forward to getting back to this.

If you like, I can make sure to email you, when the time comes, if you like.

Andrew, it’s overdue to say that I’m happy about your presence and your participation in this ethics discussion. Your contributions are profound and inspiring. Thank you.

Thanks, Helmut, that is very kind.

I want to add that when i get excited about something around people i respect, i cut my usual rheostat out of the circuit. No “Have you considered. . .”, “Another possibility might be . . .”, “I’m not certain, but. . .” If i come at somebody in this full-on mode it usually signals that i think the other person is a genius and a worthy opponent in a common effort find the truth through dialectic. Typically it implies that i will be as happy to be clearly proven wrong as to be clearly proven right.

People who don’t know me and see me in this mode can read me (Me! The humblest of men!) as arrogant.

Everyone has some great input here. I know that I am definitely learning a lot, and you’re all great teachers.

The old Popper vs. Kuhn dilemma comes to mind in thinking about the very core of things like ethics, truth, reality.

quote: “Kuhn finds that he and Popper are separated by a “gestalt switch”.”

This “gestalt switch” is what I see as part of the human dilemma of ethics. Where, in order to wrap our minds around reality, we as humans tend to either create a narrow and re-demonstrable view, or, we try to wrap our minds around it by looking at it from the perspective that “it is all relative”. I believe that we do this in part because we don’t have the capicity yet, individually or collectively, to put the “gestalt switch” into the middle setting and utilize the range of perspectives. Yet, at the same time, I keep seeing people make progress towards wrapping their heads around the nature of reality.

I think sometimes you need to take a break and argue the other guy’s position.


Also, i thought i would mention that E.O. Wilson, arguably the world’s most prominent living biologist, with the unique distinction of being both demonized and lionized by the left for different aspects of his work, argues a position very similar to LionKimbro in the chapter on ethics in his book, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge.

Andrew, I was a bit annoyed that you entered this dialog which Lion and I had begun and actually ignored me. So I felt in the mood to provoke or challenge you a little, testing how you would react. You did nicely. Not very good style on my side, I apologize.

Define external redirect: DefeasibleReasoning ConsequencesOfNaturalisticEthics SourceOfLaw DestinationOfEthics TrueJustifiedBelief

EditNearLinks: NooSphere